NHL looking for permanent presence in Europe

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hopes the season-opening doubleheaders in the Czech Republic and Sweden this weekend will usher an era of a more permanent presence in Europe for the league. He emphasized that the NHL is far from establishing expansion franchises in Europe and went on to say:

“We want to create a program where we’re coming back on a regular basis to satisfy and address the interest that we know is in our game here in Europe.”

The NHL also announced the re-introduction of “The World Cup of Hockey” to the platter of international competition sponsored by the league. The tournament was put on the shelf after the NHL began participating in the Winter Olympics. The plan is to stage this event every four years beginning in the fall of 2011. The NHL’s current international hockey commitment is playing in the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, but further participation in Olympic competition is a negotiation point for the next collective bargaining agreement.

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